Keeping Your Dog Cool This Summer

The term, hot dog, takes on a take-notice meaning now that the hot weather has arrived in the Dallas metroplex. As a master certified pet first aid/CPR instructor and founder of Pet First Aid 4U, I definitely am on a mission to give my students and all pet parents the sizzling truth about the dangers rising temperatures can pose on our canine companions. Heat stroke is serious – and it can be deadly. So, let’s unleash some key safety facts and tips:

* Dogs do not sweat like people do. Dogs lack skin pores all over their bodies. They do their best to combat high temperatures by panting and by sweating through their paw pads. Cooling bandanas and cooling jackets do not work on effectively cooling down a dog’s overheated body temperature. Cooling mats can help as the dog’s belly has little to no hair and can feel the cool from the mat.

* Know the warning sides of heat stroke. Dogs who are becoming overheated will sport bright red gums. They will pant excessively, drool, maybe stagger or act confused, vomit and even collapse and suffer from a seizure.

* Beware of the heat on sidewalks, asphalt and artificial turf surfaces. Even though the temperature outside may register 77 degrees, the temperature on those hard surfaces is actually 125 degrees. A dog can develop second degree burns to the paws within a couple minutes if standing in place. When the temperature registers 86 degrees, the surface temperature soars to 135 degrees. You could fry an egg is less than 5 minutes on that surface, so imagine the heat damage to your dog’s paws.

* Cool water works wonders for overheated dogs. Bring your dog into the shade or inside with air-conditioning. Dip each paw, one at a time, in cool water to help drop their body core temperature. Avoid giving your dog ice cubes or placing an icepack on their bodies because you risk causing shock.

* Use a cool, wet towel properly. Do not take a cool, wet towel, place it over your dog’s belly and leave it there. The damp towel meets the dog’s body heat, traps it in and causes a sauna effect that will accelerate the heat stroke. Instead, dab the cool towel on the belly.

* Dogs can get sunburned. Canines most at risk for sunburn and possible, skin cancer due to overexposure to the sun’s rays, are those with white or thin coats as well as pink noses. Veterinarians report that dogs can get sunburned in as little as 15 minutes while playing outside. Make sure to read the label and select sunscreen that is safe for use on dogs.

Parting tips: Even if you have an energetic dog, limit his outside activity on hot days and make sure to provide your dog plenty of water.

— Arden Moore is the founder of Pet First Aid 4U, best-selling author of host of the Oh Behave Show on Pet Life Radio. www.ardenmoore.com.